The Astros didn’t call up Yordan Alvarez until June 9. He might just win the American League Rookie of the Year award, anyway.
Alvarez had another monster night Monday in the Astros’ 11-1 laugher over the Athletics, reaching base four times and hitting one of the team’s three home runs. Fellow Cubans Aledmys Diaz and Yuli Gurriel also went deep for Houston and Gerrit Cole fanned 11 across seven frames of one-run ball.
Alvarez’s solo home run in the second inning put him in a tie with Albert Pujols for the most RBI in a player’s first 30 games. His run-scoring double in the third inning gave him 35 RBI to set a new record.
In addition to the record number of RBI, Alvarez has already clubbed 11 home runs and 10 doubles over just 133 plate appearances. His batting line on the season is sitting at an utterly ridiculous .342/.421/.709. That’s a 1.130 OPS, which is 54 points lower than the 1.184 OPS he had at Triple-A Round Rock (to go along with another 23 homers and 71 RBI). Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, only Christian Yelich (1.156) has a higher OPS than Alvarez.
Alvarez’s strikeout rate is a bit elevated at 27.1 percent, and he’s probably not going to be riding a .414 BABIP forever. Still, it’s difficult to poke holes in his offensive profile. He’s absolutely crushing the ball, and the left-handed swinger is doing it against both righties and lefties. Did I mention that Alvarez turned just 22 less than a month ago?
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Scherzer Nearing Return
It’s been over two weeks since Max Scherzer’s fantasy owners have gotten a start from the stud right-hander, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll be without him much longer.
Scherzer got through a full bullpen session Monday – his first since going on the injured list – with no issues and afterward declared himself ready to go.
“Really anxious. I really want to get going,” Scherzer said. “Everything feels good. Ball is coming out of my hand exactly the way it should feel like. I’m at 100 percent. Hopefully I can pitch here really soon.”
The next test for Scherzer’s readiness will come Tuesday, as the Nationals want to wait and see how he feels a day after the extended mound work. If the right-hander doesn’t report any issues, he’s expected to rejoin the rotation on Thursday against the Rockies or Friday versus the Dodgers.
The ailment that sent Scherzer to the IL was diagnosed as scapulothoracic bursitis, which is inflammation in the bursa under his right shoulder. He first felt soreness during his June 30 start versus the Tigers and dealt with it again in his next outing against the Royals.
You certainly wouldn’t know that he was pitching compromised based on his lines, as Scherzer allowed one run while striking out 25 over 15 innings in those two starts. Mad Max has reached double digits in strikeouts in six of his last seven starts (he had nine whiffs in the other outing) and still leads the National League in strikeouts by 27 even though he hasn’t pitched in 17 days.
Waiting for Woodruff
The Brewers got an official diagnosis on Brandon Woodruff Monday and the news wasn’t good. An MRI confirmed that the right-hander has a strained left oblique and he is expected to be sidelined for about six weeks.
“Kind of what we expected,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Obviously that’s significant. He’s going to miss some time, and he’ll do his best and we’ll do our best to get him back as fast as we can.”
Woodruff – who suffered the injury during Sunday’s start in Arizona – is in the midst of a breakout season, having posted a 3.75 ERA and 136/29 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings covering 20 starts and making his first All-Star team. He’ll now be on the shelf until September.
Because of a couple upcoming off days, the Brewers can get by with four starters until August 3 against the Cubs. It sounds like that’s what they plan to do, although a trade deadline acquisition certainly would change things.
There was a good chance Milwaukee was going to pursue pitching help even before Woodruff was hurt, and that need is only magnified now. A foursome of Jhoulys Chacin, Gio Gonzalez, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence for a team looking to close the gap on the Cubs in the NL Central.
National League Quick Hits: Eugenio Suarez went 2-for-5 with two homers including the go-ahead homer in the ninth inning to give the Reds a victory over the Brewers on Monday. … Paul Goldschmidt launched a go-ahead grand slam in the 10th inning of the Cardinals’ win over the Pirates on Monday. … Tyler Saladino slugged a grand slam for the second time in as many days in the Brewers’ loss to the Reds on Monday. … Robbie Ray whiffed 10 while allowing three runs over six innings in Monday’s win over the Orioles. … Zack Wheeler (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the Mets' rotation on Friday against the Pirates. … Cole Hamels (oblique) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. … Matt Carpenter (foot) is expected to be activated from the injured list when first eligible on Friday. … David Peralta (shoulder) began a rehab assignment with the Arizona League Diamondbacks on Sunday. … The Reds placed Tyler Mahle on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. … The Nationals placed Ryan Zimmerman on the injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
American League Quick Hits: Ivan Nova held the Marlins to one run in his ninth career complete game Monday. … Mitch Garver homered twice and scored three times in the Twins' victory over the Yankees on Monday. … The Astros have not decided whether Brad Peacock (shoulder) will be used as a starter or a reliever when he returns next month. … DJ LeMahieu went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk on Monday in a loss to the Twins. … The Rangers placed closer Shawn Kelley on the 10-day injured list with right biceps muscle soreness. … Eduardo Rodriguez limited the Rays to two hits over seven scoreless innings in Boston's win Monday. … Oscar Mercado homered, tripled and walked to help the Indians top the Blue Jays on Monday. … Jose Abreu homered, doubled and walked in Monday's rout of the Marlins. … Yandy Diaz will undergo X-rays after leaving Monday's game versus the Red Sox following a foul ball off his left foot. … The Twins put C.J. Cron on the IL Monday with inflammation in his right thumb. … Tim Anderson (ankle) said Monday that he expects to return "in a week or two". … Andrew Benintendi went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double against the Rays on Monday. … According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Rays have inquired on the availability of Hunter Pence. … Mitch Moreland (quad) will be activated from the injured list Tuesday and the corresponding move could be Michael Chavis (back) going on the IL.